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Sunday, August 16, 2015

The D20 is quite the diva.

I know the D20 is  quite a diva.
Rolling around in the  dice bag throwing it's weight around, bullying the lesser value dice.
Calling the D6 "common," pontificating about how the  D12 is useless. (like the  roll20 doesn't read dungeon dozen or something. Sheesh) Body shaming the rotund d30. Ignoring the poor little d4 all together.

What we need here is a team, a team that can put this the D20 Diva back in it's place.

OUR Heroes!
My suggestion is the dynamic duo that is  2d10 or the  often overlooked Percentile Die. (read 2d10 as 10's and 1's to  generate  results from 01 "one " to 00 "1 hundred".

For example the adjoining picture would be read as 48.




I have been working on a quick and  kind of dirty sci fi game loosely based on the  concept of shoot and loot video games. (Gauntlet , Borderlands, Diablo  and so on..)

When I started working on the game I was doing all kinds of mathematical back flips trying to find ways to fit a whole bunch of  "gear" possibilities into a 1d20 structure.
How in the  world will I  minimize crazy  power creep in a world of  picking up and finding lots of crazy shit then attaching it to your gun?

The cipher system does it by making ciphers one use items. So you find something crazy like a  spider drone that covers you with a reactive mucus shield that deflects physical damage, and you get to use it once. After that it's just junk, spent.. perhaps rechargeable but not likely.

That is not what I wanted though. I want items that the  characters can find and use until they find something "better." Power Creep is an assumption of the game, not a side effect.  I need mechanical room in which that power creep can happen. A range of 1 to 20 just doesn't give me the mathematical breathing room I needed.

Sorry D20, you preening master of self-admiration.  5%  chance swing  per plus 1 mod is just too much. 
Don't stare at me like that.

It turns out Star Frontiers (one of my favorite all time games) had it right.
Percentile, D100 is the way to go.

Here is the base mechanic of the game:
Take your attribute  + any skill level the character has which applies to the situation.
Subtract that number from 100.
The result is your target number to meet or beat on D100 in order to succeed on a roll.

So your character is kinda strong, she has a 30 in brawn.
she also has a skill called climb at a score of 12.
If she wants to climb up into a second story window.
30 plus 12 is 42,
100 - 42 = 58
The  player would have to roll a 58 or better.
Easy enough, especially if most of the math is done beforehand during character gen.

That's all stock standard stuff though right? First done in 1970 or whenever by some long beard tunnel gnome in Ohio. I get it, I'm not exactly blasting my way through new ground.

Still I think there are areas to expand the standard idea of  2D10 used as D100 idea. Within the structure of the base percentage die roll a game designer can do a bunch of things.

  • Look at the dice individually.
    (a roll of  48 can also be a 4 and an 8)
  • compare them via addition or subtraction.
    (A roll of 48 can also be 12 [addition] or 4 [subtraction])
  • Use the higher or the  lower die to resolve some other mechanical question.
    (a roll of 48 you could also use the roll of 8 as a damage bonus)
So on and so fourth.
There is a lot of "space" mechanically to manipulate and interpret each toss of the dice.

The lesson for me is this.
I have this 3D20 mechanic that I like, very much. I had to shelf it for this project because it just can't do what I need it to do.
I can't get hung up on divas even if the diva is an idea of my own. If the idea doesn't work, or feel right, I need to know when to ditch the idea or save it for the next game. Better that than trying to shoehorn the game concept into a mismatched mechanic.






As always thank you for reading !

Crushed D20 picture found here. Dyson's Dodecahedron.
2d10 (48) picture found here.
Big black d20 vector found here